• Focused on multiple families high on the historical gold rush of 19th century
• Features six family-owned mining companies in total
• Juan Ibarra joined Hoffman/Turin family in season six and has stayed in the spotlight ever since
• Appeared in multiple “Gold Rush” spin-offs and has his own business
• Juan is still very much involved with the endeavors covered by “Gold Rush” and will stay for a long time.
Initially entitled “Gold Rush: Alaska,” the reality TV series “Gold Rush” is centered around multiple families who are still high on the historical gold rush that enveloped the world in the 19th century, with one of the greatest being the California Gold Rush, from 1848 to 1855. Most of the regions, however, have had their gold deposits emptied long ago.
The series focuses on the few surviving true gold-abundant places, such as the Klondike region near Dawson City, Yukon, Canada, including also certain parts of Alaska, USA. Throughout its 12 years and 12 seasons of running, with 287 episodes and five awards along with another nomination, “Gold Rush” has thus far featured six family-owned mining companies in total, all of which have generational experience with the art of placer mining.
With their particular strategy, the gold is mined from various stream bed or floodplain deposits, also known as alluvial deposits. These are home to not only the world’s royal chemical element, but also a number of other minerals, though most of them don’t bring as much of a profit. Gemstones are an exception to this, since finding them is almost as good as running into a stacked gold vein.
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That said, it seems that the sources are either running out, or Discovery Channel simply decided to broaden the show’s area coverage. Starting with season 12 in 2021, the families also began working in certain mineral-rich parts of South America, as well as the western strip of the US and Canada. Fans now expect this expansion strategy to continue during the coming seasons, as the series is showing no signs of slowing down.
The six families whose members and employees made up the complete cast of the show over its duration are Hoffman/Turin, Schnabel, Hurt, Beets, Ness and Lewis, with the latter two being quite recent to the fold, as early as seasons nine and 11, respectively. In late 2022, the Hurt and Hoffman/Turin families are out of the picture, while Schnabel and Beets definitely dominate the younger two.
One of the biggest advantages of the Hoffman/Turin family throughout the show has been its core of highly talented employees, as well as family members who had a good eye for capability. Juan Ibarra is one such addition, who started working for them in season six of “Gold Rush”, as one of their lead mechanics.
When the Hoffmans dropped out of the show three years later, Juan decided to stay in the spotlight by switching over to the Beets in season nine, with whom he’s kept close ties ever since. In late 2022, the family continue to prosper, in large part thanks to Juan’s effort, with their ninth season gold ounce total rising from 3,659 in season eight to just over 4,400.
Juan’s gold rushing tale
Born on 2 April 1983, in Reno, Nevada USA, Juan Ibarra hails from an Hispanic family who moved to the area a few years before his birth, its patriarch being a plumber with his own business and a long career. Juan initially followed in his father’s footsteps, learning the secrets of the trade even as a young child.
Naturally, his interest in the mechanical side of things grew each year – for him, plumbing was never the end-goal. Ibarra grew up wanting to work on all sorts of machines, especially the big rigs used in deep earth mining and harvesting, even including farm equipment. As a result, he worked in plumbing during his adolescence, but still searched for new fields to become involved in.
He made sure to matriculate from Procter R Hug High School in his birth town in 2001, prior to fully dedicating himself to working for his father, but never considered getting a college degree, as he’ad already found his calling by that time.
In 2004 Juan founded his own Ibarra Industries L.L.C., which initially dealt in repairing all kinds of mechanical equipment, mostly of the minor type. They eventually graduated to fixing all sorts of heavy machinery, including most vehicles used in mines, at construction sites, and in oilfields.
As Ibarra Industries’ reputation continued to grow over the years, Juan was eventually contacted by members of the Hoffman/Turin families from “Gold Rush,” and asked to repair the heavy machinery they were using for gold mining. The financial incentive was apparently good enough for even Juan to accept joining the company, and then the show, since he normally shies away from the camera, preferring to work privately.
Ibarra was first featured on the screen in 2015, in the fourth episode of the sixth season of “Gold Rush”, entitled “Grandpa’s Golden Advice.” Since then he’s been featured in every next season thus far, including the 12th and latest, although in only three episodes, just as in the 11th.
This doesn’t entail even half of Juan’s screen presence, however, as he’s also participated in numerous “Gold Rush” spin-offs, which are almost too many to count. One of the more recent was “Gold Rush: Winter’s Fortune” from 2021, in which a few daring experts take on the challenge of mining in the off-season, in the thick of the unforgiving Alaskan winter.
Seeing as severe frost can cause a myriad of issues with machinery, many people like Juan were required at the scene, and Ibarra was there as one of the most experienced. He was seen in three of the show’s eight episodes, helping the crews maintain an otherwise impossible quest for winter gold.
Another such spin-off is entitled “Gold Rush: The Dirt,” in which Juan has appeared six times, in seasons five, six, seven and eight, giving his professional opinion on many of the situations that occurred during the filming of the original series. As the name suggests, this show mostly deals with behind-the-scenes action, and sends experts into the field to finally answer some of the hottest questions asked by fans.
Juan's got a new show, and it premieres tonight on @discoveryplus 🙌 Mining is a tough business, set in even tougher environments. Juan Ibarra has depended on MotionLatch® Tool Storage for years in his orange work truck, and we thank him for his continued trust in CTech storage. pic.twitter.com/JKhCxNfa5A
— CTech Manufacturing (@_CTech) January 4, 2021
Another important thing to note is that, while the Hoffman/Turin families did indeed drop out of the main title, there have been spin-offs made about their continued business after “Gold Rush.” The biggest is entitled “Gold Rush: Dave Turin’s Lost Mine,” in which the head of the Turin family sets his sights on a long forgotten, abandoned mine, which no one wanted to venture into.
As the challenge is taken and expertise is required in the field more than ever, especially due to the unconventionally dangerous terrain of the place, Juan is called into action. This is also in part due to the fact that Ibarra never completely stopped co-operating with the Turins, even though he switched to the family he now works for.
Thus, he was seen in nine of 62 episodes of “Gold Rush: Dave Turin’s Lost Mine,” which is still ongoing. Juan appeared once in the first season and twice more in the second, but as the pressure of the operation mounted, it seems he was needed more frequently, showing up in five episodes of the third season in 2021, and finally once more in the 4th in 2022.
Ibarra apparently stays well-connected to all of his former associates, and thus the audience shouldn’t be surprised at seeing him in many more “Gold Rush” spin-offs in the future, plus those he’s already featured in, as well as the main show itself.
The most important “Gold Rush” derivative in Juan’s career is “Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue,” in which the so-called ‘Gold Guru’ travels around mining hot zones and helps the most destitute of the bunch, giving them much needed advice, funds and machinery to help their business get back on track.
With his mechanical experience, Juan is an invaluable asset to Freddy Dodge, who traveled with Ibarra throughout all of the show’s 17 episodes across two seasons in 2021 and ‘22. This series, more even than “Gold Rush” itself, showed the world just what a skilled mechanic Juan really is.
Juan is now well-established in the business
Taking part in “Gold Rush” and the aforementioned spin-offs also helped Juan to expand and grow his own business, with companies like CTech Manufacturing being keen to work with him. Since Ibarra simply has to stay on the road most of the year, servicing multiple companies and mining families, as well as his own business, it seemed a practical solution for him to acquire a service truck, so that he could take his work anywhere.
CTech proudly made the truck’s aluminum drawers, which are said to be extremely durable and yet super lightweight. In the tour video of his brand new work machine called Mack, or Big Mack, Juan said his child actually named the vehicle. On the front there’s also a figurine with cloth on its back – Juan touched it, saying ‘He’s got a Superman cape, my little guy there, he’s ready to go. All set up. Ready to fly.’
Regarding some of the truck’s specifications, Juan explained that ‘It’s a matt granite, 505 horse(power), 14-speed transmission, dual steering box, that’s an 18,000-pound (8,160-kg) front, we got the American racing ATX wheels on the front of it. Of course, we got our signature color – Omaha orange.’
He then started describing the equipment that the truck needs in order for him to service his customers, saying ‘Then I got my air vantage, 566. It’s an all-in-one unit – four-process machine, the air compressor, hydraulic pack, generator and welder. And I got my badass reels. Each one of these reels got 120 feet of welding lead on ‘em.’
There was also a lot more equipment to describe, and so Juan went on, stating ‘Of course, I got my PAL Pro 72 box, we got a 12,500 29-foot (9-metre) reach crane, and you gotta have your lube skid, so I got my TPL, Taylor Pump & Lift lube skid, a three product, with oil evacuation.’
There was also important gear on the back of the truck, which Juan explained by saying ‘Of course, you can’t forget a good vise, so we got my vise out here. Actually, it’s one of the Wiltons, made in the USA. It’s a 1780.’
He moved to the side of the truck and popped it open, saying ‘Then, of course, last but not least, I got my CTech drawers, as always, on every one of my trucks. Always have to have CTech drawers. When it comes to drawer systems in a truck, you can’t beat the CTech.’
As the vehicle was finally ready to go where it’s meant to operate, Juan said ‘Once we get it home, we’ll get it tooled up, and hopefully, in the next week and a half, we’re gonna have it on the road. Thanks for checking it out, hopefully you’ve enjoyed the truck, and I’ll see you later.’
Juan’s new tour and the answer to the fans’ biggest question
Although Juan was quite thorough in his tour, fans were still way too curious to stay quiet after only a three-minute video, and so CTech posted another on 11 October 2022, entitled “”Big Mack” Q/A Session with Juan Ibarra | Viral Service Truck Tour Revisited!”. He answered many questions that the fans wrote to CTech, such as ‘Does this truck actually get put to work?’
To that end, he said ‘Yeah, it does. Our new Mack, we took it to the show, and shortly after that show, we took it back on the road, and since then we’ve already put a little over 20,000 miles (over 32,000 kilometers) on it.’
Juan further revealed that he’s still quite active among gold rushers, saying ‘It’s been up to Alaska, through the Yukon, British Columbia. Now it’s actually back down in the lower 48, but yeah, it gets used day-in and day-out. Usually, we run it about six-seven months out of the year, non-stop. So, it does get put to work, and certainly gets used a lot.’
Thus, aside from revealing that the truck works flawlessly in spite of its heavy use, Juan also openly showed everyone that he’s still very much involved with the endeavors covered by “Gold Rush,” meaning he’s there to stay for a long time, especially with the brand new equipment he’s now sporting.
Lastly, even Ibarra’s Discovery Channel profile page states that he’s heavily involved with the current season, so fans have nothing to worry about.